Experts meet on Covid-19 vaccines

Hundreds of experts have met in New Delhi to set up research and development priorities for coronavirus drugs, diagnostics and vaccines to combat the Covid-19 crisis.

At a two-day meeting, convened by the World Health Organization, vaccine manufacturers and national regulatory authorities from its South-East Asia Region to gear up for the much needed Covid-19 vaccines.

“The manufacturing capacity that exists in our Region is of the quality and scale required to produce and roll-out a Covid-19vaccine globally,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia, said in a statement.

“This Region is a vaccine manufacturing powerhouse, and it must now also play a lead role in overcoming the ongoing pandemic.”

Leading manufacturers from India, Indonesia and Thailand discussed timelines and production capacity, while regulatory bodies deliberated on adjustments that would be needed in processes to make Covid-19 vaccines available at the earliest.

India, Indonesia and Thailand are among the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers.  Every day, millions of people of all ages are provided life-saving protection by vaccines produced in these three countries.

They discussed steps, including pre-clinical and clinical trials, licensure, and plans for post-marketing surveillance that must be completed before Covid-19 vaccine can be used on a large scale.

Mapping the full landscape of vaccine development activities in the region will help coordination with global stakeholders, and support countries preparing Covid-19 vaccine deployment plans, Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

Globally, WHO has mobilised a broad coalition of scientists, researchers and industry partners to develop and evaluate candidate vaccines for Covid-19. More than 120 potential vaccine candidates have been proposed globally, and WHO continues to track their type and progress.  Seven candidate vaccines are already in clinical evaluation and 82 vaccines are in pre-clinical evaluation.

Last week, WHO launched the Access to Covid-19 ‘Tools Accelerator’, which brings together key global health actors, private sector partners and other stakeholders to accelerate the development and production of Covid-19essential health technologies, including vaccines, and to help guarantee equitable access.

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